US – Churchill Downs to buy Ellis Park in Henderson, KentuckyBy Phil - 20 September 2022
Churchill Downs has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Ellis Park Racing & Gaming (in Henderson, Kentucky, from Enchantment Holdings, LLC, an affiliate of Laguna Development Corporation, for total consideration of $79m in cash, subject to certain working capital and other purchase price adjustments. CDI will also assume Ellis Park’s opportunity to construct a track extension facility in Owensboro, Kentucky.
“This is an exciting announcement for the horse racing industry, the cities of Henderson and Owensboro, and the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. “Churchill Downs has proven it has the experience, resources, and desire to reinvigorate Ellis Park into a premier racing destination and provide unmatched gaming entertainment.”
Ellis Park, located north of the Ohio River and just south of Evansville, Indiana, celebrated 100 years of racing this year. In addition to being recognized as the historic home of summer Thoroughbred racing in Kentucky, Ellis Park also features a gaming facility venue with approximately 300 historical racing machines.
“We are very enthused to welcome Ellis Park to the Churchill Downs racing family,” said Bill Carstanjen, Chief Executive Officer of CDI. “Our team is committed to building a summer meet at the ‘Pea Patch’ that keeps more Kentucky-bred horses and Kentucky-based trainers’ in their home state while attracting top horse racing talent from across the country to the Bluegrass State each July and August.”
“This investment will ensure our Kentucky horsemen and women have the best year-round racing circuit in the country and create jobs throughout the region and state. Churchill Downs is a great corporate citizen and an important part of Team Kentucky,” continued Beshear.
The closing of the transaction is contingent upon approval by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (“KHRC”). If change of control is approved, the parties expect to close the transaction shortly thereafter.
CDI has commenced planning to make both critical investments in the Ellis Park racing infrastructure and to construct Owensboro Racing & Gaming, a track extension and entertainment venue at Owensboro’s Towne Square Mall that will feature 600 HRMs, a simulcast wagering center, and multiple food and beverage offerings. Over the next year, CDI expects its total investment in Henderson and Daviess Counties to be approximately $75m in addition to the purchase price.
“The opportunity to bring Churchill Downs to Owensboro is particularly significant to us,” said Jason Sauer, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development for CDI, “We are eager to start the work to elevate Ellis Park’s reputation as a summer destination for Thoroughbred racing while delivering a premier gaming and entertainment experience to Daviess County. We look forward to sharing more exciting details about our plans in the coming days.”
CDI will acquire all of the outstanding equity of Ellis Entertainment, LLC, the parent company of Ellis Park. For tax purposes, the transaction will be treated as an asset purchase, allowing CDI incremental tax benefits that will provide additional cash flow and will enhance the overall economics of the transaction.